Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Edit for a national show - Nightly Business Report

My friend Tom calls some jobs "making Chicken Salad out of chicken sh!#". This is one of those cases.

The story is solidly written, but it's mostly about abstract ideas. Those are harder to edit than stories about physical objects or events and happenings. This cuts-only story uses SD footage, web video, press handouts and staged shots (people talking, walking, answering phones and just pretending to work in general).

It was a total charge for me to be in "news mode" again after several years of being in "post world. You sit down to work at 9am and you know the Fed Ex office closes at 5pm. You better be done before 4:40.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

End of Summer Highlight - Matt Mullenweg

As Bigge Crane was winding down, I started working on a profile of Matt Mullenweg for KTEH, the PBS affiliate in San Jose.

This is built around a sit-down interview with Matt. I talked to him for nearly an hour, beginning from his religious and social background to his philosophical influences as a young developer. We also covered the facts & figures surrounding the success of WordPress and Automattic.

The challenge was finding video to cover the thoughts. Luckily for me, Matt is a photography fanatic and there are web videos from WordPress's fans around the world. By using those assets, plus Photoshop and After Effects animations, we were able to turn abstract ideas into visual expression.

The reaction to the story was VERY positive. The folks at WordPress put it on their company blog and Matt himself posted it and recommended it as a good introduction to WP. It was re-tweeted and re-posted onto other blogs around the world and received many positive compliments.

Monday, December 13, 2010

First item: Summer Job!

I've been too busy to post during the past few months, but that means I have a bunch of good stories to share during the Christmas break. First item: Summer Job!

My full time employer, The City & County of San Francisco, had to reduce the pay of 25,000 workers by roughly 5.5%. This meant I would have 12 unpaid days of furlough coming up in the fiscal year, so I found a part-time job as a videographer and editor for Bigge Crane & Rigging.

The company is a market leader in the US for rentals of cranes, but they had no video presence on the web. Bigge wanted a half-dozen direct sales videos to be done quickly. Management was interested in creating softer videos, like recruiting and overview pieces, but they didn't want to waste time by doing those first.

The camera was a Canon Vixia 30 with a shotgun mic. By setting it the camera to "auto-everything" I had good pictures 90% of the time. The CMOS sensor "jelly" effect ruined a few shots and the auto-iris became confused by foggy weather sometimes, but for speedy production I could ignore the few bad takes. During this job I edited on Sony Vegas for the first time. It was a great product that filled the niche between Avid and low end tools like MovieMaker. For editing news-style pieces, it was a snap. The compression tools were a time-killer though. If you work with HDV and output m2t files, you'll be fine, but many people can't play m2t on their desktops. For internal review I needed mp4 or .mov, and Vegas is very slow to compress those.

After making five or six of these of these videos, we had a script template and the production process was understood by the full time Bigge staff. I knew that I was leaving in a few weeks, so I created another short piece to use as a template.

This was made from an old press realease that I found on their website and a half dozen photos from Bigge's archives. I thought it was a good example of how to turn old content into a new experience. Bigge has hundreds of photos in their archive, dating back to the 1920s. I enjoyed seeing them, so I assume that others will as well. These videos only take a few hours to knock out and can be done when other shoots are delayed. It's a good corporate image series to complement the hard sell of the other pieces.